More on geocentrism

By Phil Plait | February 16, 2007 9:19 am

So there’s a little bit of a kerfuffle over my posting on Geocentrism which appears to be working itself out. I posted it because of reports that some goofball Georgia state representative put out a memo about the Jews running the Earth, how evolution is a Jewish plot of some kind, and how the Earth doesn’t spin. He was the one who brought up the mind-numbing tear-your-eyes-out-of-your-head website www.fixedearth.com in the first place. Have fun reading that. It should come with a warning label.

But to make matters worse, another goofball — this time a Texas legislator — used the state House distribution system to send that memo out to the entire Texas legislature. That’s when this thing hit national attention, as well it should. If you’re going to do something that ridiculous and humiliate yourself to that kind of level, it’s best to do it in front of as big an audience as possible.

Someone, at some point, must have clued the Texan in on what he actually did, because he did something people rarely do– he actually went and read the Fixed Earth website. Red faced, he has now apologized and said he should have looked at the website first.

You think?

Blecccch. This story gets weirder and weirder. Go to Talking Points Memo for details. This whole thing is making me dizzy. Maybe I’m just feeling the Earth spin.

Comments (35)

  1. Cathy

    The Fixed Earth website gave me the best laugh I’ve had in a long time!!! Thx for publishing the link!

  2. After reading through a bunch of the headache-generating Fixed Earth site, I am forced to pose this hypothesis:

    The amount of woo on a given site is directly proportional to the amount of bold text and font and colour changes in the text of the site.

    This hypothesis predicts that sites like Time Cube and Fixed earth are highly woowoo, having filled their site with bizarre font changes and colours; while the Centre for Disease Control and this Bad Astronomy site are relatively non-woo sporting conservative design that is relatively easy to read.

    The hypothesis opens other questions as well. For example, is colour blindness a symptom of woowooity or does it represent a predisposition to woowooity? There’s a medical/psychology master’s thesis topic, I think.

  3. Gary Ansorge

    Having Jewish ancestry I should probably take umbrage at the idea of a world wide, millenia long Jewish conspiracy.
    On the other hand, I’ve heard it said, if you can trace your ancestry back ten generations, you’d find youself related to just about everybody, which makes me feel good about a potential relationship with Dr. Martin Luthur King.

    On the other, other hand, it also implies a relationship with goof ball Georgia state representatives.

    Ah well, we takes the good with the bad,,,

    I had a Saudi friend that pointed out, when Mohammed lay dying, he told his followers,”I’ll be back. Don’t change anything,,,”
    So they tried to do just that,,,

    People are really simple critters. They want certainty and the only way to have that is to ignore the changeable nature of reality, sweeping under the rug any suggestion that reality is basically chaotic.

    Someone once said, the only things we can count on to stay the same are death and taxes. That old fudge factor, god, must then be accountable for all the rest of natural change. One of these days I’d really like to ask the His fudginess how He could justify all the pain of reality, but I’ve already decided Buddah had it right. Sometimes, stuff happens. Live with it,,,or not, it’s your choice.

    Gary 7

  4. George

    You would think the GA rep. would be more careful not to burn so many bridges.

    My favorite argument against Geocentricity is its complete inability to offer a reasonable explanation for the observed variations in daily rotation. Admittedly, the hypocrisy of using GR to establish an absolute frame of reference is more colorful. :)

  5. DennyMo

    Is “woo” kinda like “wololo” in Age of Empires? I think your hypothesis is quite valid, just look at all the conspiracy nutbag sites out there, same thing applies.

  6. Allen

    Everyone has a right to their opinion and some have the rigt to be stupid. The website falls in the latter. Unfortunately he is in government. Hopefully he wont be elected to a spot in DC.

  7. Nathan Hinman

    It’s funny and sad at the same time. Once again we have the “Blame the Jews” idiocy being touted by small minded children who are losing an argument. this kind of behaviour should never be tolerated especially by an elected official.

  8. KellyT

    How would one go about proving to a child that Earth
    spins on its axis and goes around the Sun, as opposed
    to how it appears to be just the opposite? I presume
    said examples will also work for the educationall-challenged
    adults.

  9. skeptigirl

    Besides the frightening lack of knowledge about the scientific process, the letter claiming “proof” “evolution science” is as religious as “creation science” because a version of the Big Bang and evolution theories can be found in Rabbinic texts from 2,000 years ago is most intriguing. Has anyone had the time to investigate this history? How did they reach such conclusions? Are there astronomers we haven’t heard of that preceded Galileo and Copernicus? That looks like a fun avenue to investigate.

    Or is the story as much a stretch about the original evidence as it is a stretch of the current conclusions from the evidence?

  10. skeptigirl

    I don’t think these people are as educationally challenged, Kelly, as they are religiously indoctrinated. You don’t get this kind of warped thinking from ignorance alone.

  11. Quiet_Desperation

    >>> “Having Jewish ancestry I should probably take umbrage at the idea
    >>> of a world millenia long Jewish conspiracy.”

    I know what you mean.

    It’s at least *two* millennia.

    Those conspiracy guys are always short changing you.

    For the humor impaired: :)

  12. How can you dispute their primary evidence?! Apparently somebody a long time ago said “The world also is stablished that it cannot be moved.” That’s good enough for me!

  13. At the end of the day, Bridges is still a moron. From TPM:

    “I am convinced that rather than risk teaching a lie why teach anything?”

    Better to curse the darkness than to light a single candle, eh?

  14. BC

    the letter claiming “proof” “evolution science” is as religious as “creation science” because a version of the Big Bang and evolution theories can be found in Rabbinic texts from 2,000 years ago is most intriguing

    It reminds me of Harun Yahya (which is THE big creationist organization in Turkey). They claim that evolution is an evil plot by Christians and freemasons to undermine Islamic belief.

  15. “Are there astronomers we haven’t heard of that preceded Galileo and Copernicus?”

    A) Yes, of course there were, starting with a great many Babylonians whose names we don’t remember.

    B) But, assuming that you mean heliocentrist astronomers, the answer again is, yes, of course there were, most notably certain Vedic scholars living nearly 3,000 years ago, and Aristarchus of Samos, in the 3rd century BC. Some Islamic astronomers, too, had been groping their way toward heliocentrism by Copernicus’ time, and he acknowledged both them and Aristarchus in an extant early draft.

    C) But, assuming that you mean Jewish heliocentrist astronomers, no, none that I know of. To begin with, Jews historically didn’t go in much for astronomy, because astronomy was completely entangled with astrology and astrology was completely entangled with polytheism. Even practical astronomy meant less to Jews than to most cultures, because few Jews were long-distance sailors — things got too dangerous if a storm should arise on the Sabbath.

  16. Arguments based on Biblical use of the word “world” are extremely unreliable. The word meant “universe” and/or “era” until quite recently, then, once heliocentrism began to be accepted, “Solar system or [hypothetical] other stellar system”, and only later, “planet, such as Earth”.

    And, of course, the universe cannot, indeed, move in space.

  17. How would one go about proving to a child that Earth
    spins on its axis and goes around the Sun, as opposed
    to how it appears to be just the opposite? I presume
    said examples will also work for the educationall-challenged
    adults.

    I believe the Focault (sp?) pendulum experiment demonstrates that the earth rotates on its axis, but you could say that “God moves the pendulum to test us”

    Measurable parallax in the skies gives evidence that we go around the sun, but if you’re a geocentrist, you could counter with “God jiggles the heavens to give the appearance of parallax”.

    In fact, you could calculate pretty much every orbit, every stellar motion, every parameter of the universe based on a stationary Earth, but your head would explode in short order and you would very quickly come the conclusion that the standard, non-geocentric model is just plain simpler. It would be like using tensor math to describe 2+2=4.

  18. Some Guy

    Kelly T said: ”

    How would one go about proving to a child that Earth
    spins on its axis and goes around the Sun, as opposed
    to how it appears to be just the opposite? I presume
    said examples will also work for the educationall-challenged
    adults.”

    Assuming one does not have access to the internet, or a library, or a single book from a volume of encyclopedias, where there are thousands of pictures of the earth from space, the moon, the earth from the moon, the earth taken from the space shuttle and space stations and satellites, pictures of the sun from SOHO or other satellites, pictures of rovers on Mars, pictures of planets from probes like Galileo or Cassini, and so on, and so on. None of that would be possible without knowing that planets rotate on their axis and that planets revolve around the sun.

    I try to explain things like this: Have you ever seen an airplane fly? It goes up, and flies across the sky until it gets really small, and you can’t see it anymore. You know that while you are standing on the ground, the plane is moving. But from the plane, you are sitting still, and the ground seems to be moving.
    To the people in the plane, the things on the ground get really small, and the entire earth stretches out in every direction. And if you go high enough, the ground will no longer look flat. Instead, it will look curved.

    If you don’t have access to a globe and a lamp, you can use a basketball and a flashlight to easily demonstrate the motions of the sun and the earth. Add a baseball to represent the moon, and you can show anybody of any age in 10 minutes how the sun and moon and earth work together.

    Kids question everything, until they are taught not to. Most adults tend to take things for granted (like cellphones, and GPS). The challenge is to encourage everyone to question their environment, so they have a better understanding of how their universe actually works.

  19. Ausrick

    Tensor math to describe 2+2=4! I love that one! Oh the geodesics! :p

    You have a point, If God’s all powerful then of course he can do anything, lots of wiggle room there. But if you believe that the Bible says God created the universe to bring glory to Himself so that those witnessing it would know His majesty, and you simultaneously believe god pulls tricks like jiggling the heavens, or as some young-earth creationists believe, created starlight already in transit to explain seeing stars light years away… you create paradoxes which I suspect are unsolvable. Or maybe we need to do more research on the jiggling of the sky. :) (of course this is assuming a religious hang up for geocentrism… I’m sure geocentrism can stand on its own somewhere, somehow, in some form… maybe)

  20. My very favorite thing about this sort of nonsense is that the very same basic principles of physics that can be applied to do things like building computers that host their websites also can be used to show how modern cosmology is correct. Also, the basic rules of biology that are used for created modern medicines describe evolution. Hilarious.

  21. skeptigirl

    John W. Kennedy Says:
    “Are there astronomers we haven’t heard of that preceded Galileo and Copernicus?”

    A) Yes, of course there were, starting with a great many Babylonians whose names we don’t remember.

    No John, not A,B or C. I know about the Babylonians and the astronomers I was referring to weren’t heliocentrists. I was asking about 2,000 year old Rabbinical texts that discussed the Big Bang and evolution.

  22. You’ll notice: he apologized, but he didn’t say the site was wrong.

    I have a theory (which belongs to me, and is mine) that the act of being elected to public office causes a genetic mutation which then makes it physically impossible for the person to sound out the phrase, “I was wrong.”

    Even if they tried, it would just come out, “I was wrrrrRRRrrrrrr…”

  23. Oh, and speaking of ancient astronomers, I believe it was Eratosthenes who correctly deduced the size of the Earth and the Moon, over 2,200 years ago. He also developed the system of latitude and longitude and made the first world map (as much as he knew it).

  24. Drbuzz0

    You can go on with this forever. I’ve talked to these people before.

    “We know, because observation of the universe and the solar system shows that the movements are consistent with a heilo-centric solar system”

    “How do you know god doesn’t just move them in a way to create that illusion”

    “Well we have navigated the solar system with probes, so that obviously shows we know our way around it pretty well.”

    “How do you know the probes ever got to the planets?”

    “Because they sent back signals and pictures and readings…”

    “How do you know God didn’t just spoof those signals at us to make it appear that they did?”

    “And why would he do that?”

    “He works in mysterious ways. How dare you question….”

    You can justify *anything* if you go by the theory that God spends all his time trying to trick us about science, by putting fabricated fossils in the ground and using the sky as a giant projection screen and sending spoofed pictures on the downlink from Hubble. OF course… that’s also pretty dumb.

  25. Nick Fabry

    I’m glad other people find http://www.fixedearth.com and the legislators who referenced it as funny; I just find them depressing. Did you see how much content was on that site? The fact that people exist who plainly have time and energy on their hands, and spend it writing inane gibberish by the ream, rather than going out and buying a sextant and textbook, and doing a little observing, is rather discouraging.

    How can he routinely use the fruits of technology (for instance, the computer he composed that rather…. colorful webpage with) without a wisp of thought going through his head that all this gadgetry was a) Not mentioned in the Bible, and b) works anyway? Ever wonder how it works? Perhaps all those scientists and engineers are onto something?

    I just don’t get how someone can stick their head in the sand with such intensity and vigor.

  26. David

    God works in mysterious ways, alright – God as trickster, God as ‘lord of lies’, God as deceiver, God as enemy of man and knowledge. Sounds like the sort of God that I’d want to worship …

  27. Ulster

    Ha! Funny thing is that my “cyber nanny” program I installed to keep the kids safe online actually BLOCKS fixedearth.com.

  28. CR

    David said: “God works in mysterious ways, alright – God as trickster, God as ‘lord of lies’, God as deceiver, God as enemy of man and knowledge. Sounds like the sort of God that I’d want to worship …”

    Thanks! I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels that way about people’s misinterpretations about God.

    Ulster said:”Ha! Funny thing is that my “cyber nanny” program I installed to keep the kids safe online actually BLOCKS fixedearth.com.”

    That’s both hilarious & great!

  29. Chisum is a laughing stock here in Texas. Check out Andrew Sullivan’s blog for a video clip of him debating sodomy laws. It would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad.

  30. John Phillips

    All I can say is that this god must really have the hots for stupid people to the exclusion of all others. Otherwise, how else can one explain the profusion of sites such as these as well as the YEC and the IDiots. If I wasn’t sitting in front of a computer I would really wonder which century I was living in as so many, especially believers, seem to be rapidly devolving instead of evolving. Stop the planet I want to get off.

  31. Gary Ansorge

    One of the “proofs” I’ve heard about from my Muslim friends concerning the devine inspiration of Mohammed concerned his desire to inhibit inbreeding by forbidding marriage between close relationships. He tried to limit such marriage to no closer than second cousins, but the political/economic climate at the time resulted in first cousin marriages being allowed under the Quran. The assumption that this was devinely inspired came about because no one in the 7th century understood genetics.

    It was never mentioned that Mohammed was a shepard with exceptional observational skills who just might have noticed what happened when closly related sheep interbred,,,

    Gary 7

  32. skeptigirl

    Or Gary, perhaps an emotional rejection to incest is genetic and widespread across most cultures? I doubt the lack of close inbreeding being the norm comes from Mohammad getting his message out around the globe.

  33. Matt J

    Yikes. I happen to live in Georgia, and I am now pissed off at this particularly crazy representative of ours. I read through that fixedearth.com website, and it has all the hallmarks of a standard “insane conspiracy theory” internet hellhole. All text and no graphics (or vice versa): check. Incredibly eye-melting color scheme for said text: check. Massive, poorly indexed guide to the conspiracy itself: check.

    I wouldn’t trust anyone who said the Earth doesn’t spin to wash my freaking laundry, much less represent my interests to the State Government. Oh well, there’s always democracy and the voting process to kick this dirty douche out of office next year ^_^.

  34. Yen

    I mean clearly science is wrong. The earth is flat how else can you explain why when I look in the horizon it is a line not a curve. Huh, can you, can you? I mean it is just common sense that everything revolve around the earth, like Duh!!! Imagine the audacity of science people and their fanatical theories…

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